"Below is the story of how we got started in the Aircraft Washing Business. Although there is tremendous data and written articles to back it up, the story is written from our point of view and opinion, so we do not intend to try to prove anything to anyone, nor do we want to get our selves in trouble for the fun of the past. We claim freedom of speech, of the press in it's entirety since a good part of it is opinion based."
Lance Winslow's original company at age 12 was Speedy Waxers. He stared with partners. Andrew Rice and Mark Daily, who father both owned aircraft too. In Lance's family they had a Piper Colt, two-seater which Lance had some 80 flying hours in. Andrew's dad bought a Cessna 150 and Mark's dad had Bellanca Decathlon and a Beech Bonanza. It was in the business of aircraft washing and waxing. Mark Daily became a businessman, Andrew Rice joined the Air Force.
All three were in the Civil Air Patrol at the time. Andrew and Lance were also in the Boy Scout Aviation Explorers. Lance eventually came to own the business by himself and later sold this business to a friend, Glen Tierney, who was in the Junior ROTC. This was in 1979 at Camarillo Airport (CMA) in California near the Coast above Los Angeles. Lance went to work for a local McDonald's as an employee, for Clay Passion, Franchisee, who owned a Beechcraft Debonair that Lance use to wash on a weekly basis. Clay was a long time customer and his office staff were Car Washing customers for at least a decade. Clay promised Lance a quick advancement due to his previous business experience and aircraft washing loyalty. Lance was waiting for a turn to go into training to be an assistant manager.
Meanwhile the young Lance Winslow read Ray Kroc's book and studied every single manual and video tape in the place and how every single detail was accounted for. WOW, he thought, this is how you really do it, this is when Lance decided he would emulate Ray Kroc whenever he could. Glen Tierney later joined the Air Force five months later and left the business. Lance re-contacted all the customers and went back into business under the name Aero Wash, and then set up more units at Santa Paula Airport, Van Nuys, Oxnard Airport and even got accounts in Santa Barbara. Back then we washed 135 aircraft per week at approximately $10.00 each. (Can you imagine those prices today?)
Back then Lance thought he would try aircraft sales, however he was young and naive and nobody would give me a chance. He knew he would do well, he happen to know just about everyone at five different airports, contacts for sales would be a no-brainer. Not only was he young but he was small for his age. It was hard enough to get people to let him wash their planes at age 12 let alone sell planes at age 15. So at 15 he formed an aircraft finders fee business and asked a commission for referring buyers.
This was when the ITC-Investment tax credit was taken away, America was still in the energy crisis with high fuel prices and luxury tax law went into affect the next year and killed General Aviation. We still had the aircraft washing business, but Lance now armed with a driver's license at sixteen knew no limits. He started washing fleets for utility companies, California Highway Patrol, Post Office Jeeps, anything. At the time we had several Independent contractors we called "franchisees."
Of course at the time Lance didn't really understand the total extent of what franchising was, he understood McDonald's and attention to details, but was only starting to grasp what he would some day become. Lance was winning in the market in the middle of the recession, he said we do not participate in recessions. We are good at the down times too, we have been there and we won and we understand the market and the sectors we are in. Here are some articles in the beginning.
Lance started a company he called Speedy Aircraft Finders. As part of this business he started the first Aircraft Multi-Listing Service which was online. Although the Internet was not really being used yet and TRS 80's were just hitting the market. He used dumb terminals and watts lines to send aircraft brokers updated listings. He sold approximately 40 or so aircraft back then and assisted other brokers in doing the same.
He took on two partners and later they were able to squeeze lance out of the pattern. Two years later one of the gentleman later went to prison for embezzlement when he sold the same aircraft to three people, the other reprimanded on another deal and eventually lost everything. Lance after being forced to sell his third of the business went to work for Air Camarillo and started the Aircraft Sales Department determined to out-sell those gentlemen. He did and everyone else too.
Although he really did not like to do sales, he loved to fly the aircraft for sale. Sometimes he would insist that every buyer fly every single aircraft on the line for sale and many that Lance had brokered agreements, before they were allowed to make and offer, sign a conditional sales contract or buy an airplane. Thus Lance got more flying time in lots of cool aircraft and he doubts he ever had an unhappy customer, they always gave referrals and always came back. It was through this high volume of sales that Mira Slovak, the Russian Airline Defector during the Cold War, came to Lance with a proposition to help him sell Partnavias.
An Italian Built Aircraft which Mira had the North American rights to sell. Lance became a dealer for that brand too. One day Mira shows up in an Italian Bi-Plane and asks Lance if he wants to go for a ride. Lance says sure. Lance and Mira Slovak inventor of the aircraft maneuver the Lumshovak, fly to 3000 AGL and do the inverted snap roll entry cartwheel and tumble through the sky. Lance was then hooked on aerobatics. There was a time when if Lance could not cage the gyros and in a plane so he could do a spin or a barrel roll or in aerobatic aircraft do a loop or tail slide he just wouldn't fly. He got over that quick enough, sometimes it gives you a real head ache.
One day when Lance sold an aircraft to Dave, who Founded The LA Title Company (A Real Estate and Title Company) The gentleman had worked for California Land and Title Company for ten years prior and he took a interesting in the self motivated young man. Lance and Dave talked about franchising and a possible partnership to franchise the business. Both loved the idea, Lance because it was his dream and Dave because he loved the aircraft washing services, which he contracted through Lance after he bought the plane from him. One day after having lunch in Lance's office they started doodling on a napkin the basic idea for the franchise in aircraft washing.
The Founder of LA Title company liked the synergy of aircraft sales and aircraft washing for built in clientele. They also discussed washing cars and trucks, but Lance had barely gotten a driver's license so he could finally drive off the airport onto a public street although he had picked up some juicy accounts already.
Later he changed the name of the business to Aero-Auto Wash to encompass all types of washing, from Aircraft to Cars. At that time we washed for Evergreen Airlines, Evergreen Airspur, Offshore Oil Helicopter Companies, GTE Flight Services, FBOs, Jet Charters, Fractional Jet Companies, Flight Schools, Flying Clubs, Confederate Airforce, Civil Air Patrol, FBI, Military, Air National Guard, US Air Force, FAA Certified Repair Stations, Commuter Airlines, Air Ambulance Services,Air Charter and countless general aviation private owners with everything from EAA Biplanes to Aerostar 601s.
We even washed for Mr. Delorean, several movie stars and many founders of large companies.One of the coolest jobs around. Lance found synergies in the different washing businesses. Someone who owned an airplane most likely owned a business, was a farmer, high ranking executive and if not certainly knew others who were. Thus built in clientele in nearly every industry and after flying around all over California he noticed things on the ground that needed his services. Mr. Winslow still uses aerial pictures and mapping to target accounts to this day. And really appreciates the Google Earth feature online.
The business plan on a napkin franchising idea lay dormant from 1985 to until 1993 when Lance went to go re-visit the Founder of LA Title at his Burbank, CA corporate high rise office building. Lance was ready to go for his dream and needed to get some venture capital about 1-2 million. At that time the Founder of LA Title was not interested seeing the enormity of such an undertaking and instead provided Lance with his expertise and advice for free and a confidential copy of the LA Title Business Plan for Lance to review and use to help him devise a winning business plan. Lance searched around for venture capital for about a year and gave up in disgust, venture capitalists were too dumb to understand the incredible opportunity in the marketplace. To compound things they did not think a guy who left school could handle such an undertaking.
Lance had quit college to run the expanding
business. He felt college was superficial and that he had more experience and a better
sense of reality than the text books of yester year being taught by Professors who had
never actually run a business of any kind. By that time Lance had been operating in many
other industries such as Agriculture Cleaning, Concrete Cleaning, Fleet Washing, Auto
Detailing, Car Washing and of course Aviation.
Lance was looking to take all his knowledge and bring it to the market on a big scale starting in California and then the Sun Belt States and eventually into Europe. Without any success in finding venture capital, Lance continued his business, got into politics and at nights, sometimes all night writing up plans to fulfill his mission. Spending countless sleepless nights writing over 1 million words into manuals, marketing plans, Business Plans, etc. he was convinced that he had to move forward. Lance Winslow's business plan got so big 400 plus pages that he could not even call it a business plan anymore and named it FranPlan. During this time Lance also became involved in motorcycle street racing, the speed did not bother him much, so he did quite well. Lance also got into trouble for flying under a bridge although his friend an FAA Examiner gave him a warning, "If you ever try anything like that again, I'll have you thrown in jail, now get the hell out of here!!"
We decided after all the research that is was time to go for it. Time to launch on our own without any venture capital and build the business the way we had always done it, out of gross receipts. We kept building the business washing cars and aircraft and renamed it The Car Wash Guys. We built up car wash guys to 35 units serving 43 cities using independent contractors. In 1996 we decided to become an actual franchise company, forming Car Wash guys International, Inc. We could now better control consistency, color schemes and service quality, driving on the comments of Ray Kroc in his book "Grinding it Out".
Coming from aviation into automotive services we tended to run our business strictly by the book. In aviation things are more critical than in the automotive sector, but we believed that being overly concerned with the little details would actually be a good thing and advantage over the competition when dealing with cars. During the ".Com" craze we changed the name to WashGuy.com and added web sites for the different brand names.
Of course, The Aircraft Wash Guys has always been the favorite of Mr. Winslow since this is where he started out some 27 years ago. After the successes and hardships of the learning all the other different market segments for Team Wash Guys, it is wonderful to offer Aircraft Wash Guys as a completely separate Franchise Module to those people involved in aviation who would like to own their own business.
Wash Guys wash cars, trucks, boats, concrete and many other things and as you are probably aware, aircraft washing requires different training, soaps, equipment and wastewater recovery for environmental reasons. The FAA will with hold monies for aircraft improvements if airports are not following strict environmental laws. It is for this reason Mr. Winslow has been so proactive in helping the team with environmental compliance and giving his expertise to government agencies who are developing BMPs for the Aviation Industry.
In 1997 Lance Winslow met and hired Arthur Dickey the originator of Tidy Plane to working product development. trying to better a product called Dry Wash, using kerosene as the active ingredient. Tidy car tried to market Tidy Plane, but that didn't work to well without Arthur's devotion. Arthur helped us design labels and with the help of his chemist design better products which were safe for the aviation cleaning industry. Arthur was one of the original Tidy Car Franchisees, his dad once owned a small airline in Los Angeles which flew jets and later had one of the top performing Mail Boxes Etc. franchises. Tidy Car made Arthur stop his Tidy Plan Concept, through a franchise agreement clause feeling it did not work with their brand name. A decade Later Tidy Car sold that brand name to Ziebart.
Arthur's brother operated the Tidy Car Franchise after that and did lots of aircraft washing for jet customers in Florida.vArthur was hired away from the founder's of the Paxton Super Charger, and the Paxton Racing Team after he had developed their super wax brand to sell in Wal-Mart and Pep Boys, after Arthur left the brand never did reach it's full potential. Arthur with all this knowledge made it easy for us to comply with all the MSDS requirements. Arthur after developing our product line moved on to explore other opportunities and continued his passion with the Dry Washing Concept and with a friend convinced Fed Ex to use it exclusively in many markets and he set up with some associates a network of operators using his new blend.
In 2000 Mr. Winslow gave a notice to all Car Wash Guys stating it was forbidden for them to wash planes due to potential negative PR in newspapers if they polluted, plus the insurance requirements and equipment was not right in case of damage and the UFOC for Car Wash Guys did not cover these issues and those independent contractor contracts were10 years old. This was a major dilemma. So our team got together to make a set of training videos, upgrade equipment so that our team could keep the aviation customers and comply with the laws. Several of our franchisees with Car Wash Guys complied and kept washing Aircraft.
It was determined that the market in aviation was not being satisfied so we have expanded into a full blown franchise system. We noticed that FBOs, Flying Schools and especially the fractional jet market was really taking off. We allowed the Car Wash Guys to sign Aircraft Wash Guys agreements or in some cases where they bought specialized equipment made verbal agreements for them to continue. Then as we started get going the FTC hurt many of our franchisees by attacking Car Wash Guys and then the other terrorists of 9-11 just about put the death blow in General Aviation, but aviation people are tough as they come and today the market sector is rebounding.
Mr. Winslow has always been passionate about flying and aviation. His Father was a decorated naval Aviator flying in the Puerto Rico Squadron F-8s during Cuban Missile Crisis, 250 combat missions in an A-4, later CO of a Naval Squadron (A-7 Corsair II), later Captain in the Navy, later and Airline Pilot (737, 727, DC-10, 747, 777, 757), then after retirement, currently fly's a Gulfstream Corporate Aircraft.
Mr. Winslow's dad wishes he could be flying F-18s in the Sand Box right now. Mr. Winslow's Grandfather was head of FAA in Fresno International Airport and flew in a B-24, while his step grandfather flew a B-17 Flying Fortress) and his other grandfather built the first laser ring gyro now used as a guidance system throughout the aviation, marine and space industries. It is in my blood. Lance Winslow's brother is a Pilot in Command for a C-130 in the US Marines stationed out of Miramar.
Today our team has washed for Ted Turner in Bozeman MT, Millionaire Aviation, Executive Jet, etc. And companies like Raytheon, Cessna and others. We have washed jets in Little Rock Arkansas, Scottsdale AZ Airpark, Colorado Springs CO, Bozeman MT, Columbus OH, Van Nuys CA, Palm Springs CA and many other airports across the country. Our goals today include having 35 AircraftWash Guys in 2003 and 50 by 2004 and 100 by 2012. Ambitious, Big time, and can we do it? We really think its possible, time will tell. We have some competition in the Industry, not much, but we plan on doing whatever it takes to be and stay number one.
Lance Winslow's New Books on the Industry - Available to Amazon Kindle Users
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